Nissan feels vindicated by Toyota-Tesla tie up

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Was Nissan, the self-appointed electric car messiah with its Leaf zero-emissions vehicle, bothered by Toyota's recent tie-up with Tesla?

Quite the contrary. It feels vindicated.

“We welcome every manufacturer's move toward electric vehicles,” Nissan EV head Andy Palmer told me on the sidelines of this week's launch of the Juke crossover.

“It just legitimizes what we said two or three years ago, when everyone said we were wrong.”

Granted, Nissan has been working on the project for years -- even when others were deriding the vehicles as “golf carts.” But it's not exactly like Nissan invented the electric car.

Still, its lead with the Leaf, no matter how modest, may be just enough for Nissan to spin this message to any and all latecomers: “If you can't beat us, join us.”